The Boeing-led international Sea Launch company has been awarded a contract by Space Systems/Loral (SSL) to launch the Telstar 8 communications satellite aboard one of its Zenit 3Sl boosters from the Odyssey offshore platform. The launch will take place from an equatorial location at 154¹ W in the Pacific Ocean in 2002.

Weighing 5,500kg (12,100lb), and based on an SSL 1300 bus, the Telstar 8 will be the heaviest satellite handled by Sea Launch, which has a 5,700kg-to-geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) launch capability. It will have 92Ku-band and C-band transponders.

Sea Launch originally advertised its GTO lifting capability to be 6,000kg but this has since been reduced. Ariane 5's official GTO lifting capability is 6,000kg flying with dual-satellite payloads, as a result of slight modifications which will precede work on three uprated models, increasing GTO capacity to 12,000kg by 2005.

Sea Launch will fly a Zenit 3SL booster from the Odyssey launch platform in the equatorial Pacific Ocean early next month carrying the first Thuraya satellite built by Hughes for the United Arab Emirates. Three Zenit SL boosters have arrived at the Sea Launch's home port at Long Beach, California for upcoming launches.

• Boeing has completed construction of its $27 million Delta IV horizontal processing plant at Cape Canaveral, close to the vehicle's launch pad 37. The work is part of Boeing's $250 million investment in the pad 37 area to support the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle programme.

Source: Flight International